The Waiting

I was sitting in a waiting room at the doctor’s office today. As I was going out the door I realized that I had left my iPhone upstairs and then just as quickly decided that I didn’t need it. I was just going to an appointment, after all.

The waiting room was small, and full to the brim, chairs lining either side of room, facing off against the people opposite. A woman next to me flipped idly through a magazine, and I took off my coat, told the receptionist I’d arrived, and settled in. Now in all fairness, I guess it would have been nice to have a book to read, but I didn’t even notice. I was too busy observing the people around me and daydreaming. Maybe I’m a kook but I enjoy a little off-screen time now and again to linger over thought in my own head.

I couldn’t say the same for the other occupants of the room, though. Pretty much everyone else had their phones right up to their noses, scanning Facebook updates eagerly, tapping out emails, playing games. I peeked over at someone nearby who was doing a crossword puzzle on her phone. A man entered the room and didn’t even look up from his tiny screen as he removed his leather coat and sat down. A couple sat near me – her on my side, scrolling through photos, and him on the opposite side, also buried in his phone. Texting her, perhaps?

I guess I’m old fashioned, but it kind of bugs me when people can’t put their phones down for 3 seconds, in the grocery store line, walking down the street, or especially at a restaurant, dimly lit, while sharing a cozy meal with a loved one. Isn’t the goal conversation rather than distraction? It’s become more than a convenience. It’s become a way of life, a new form of human (or less human) interaction.

I love my phone too: hooked on Instagram, love checking my email on the fly, but if you are sharing a treat with your kid in a coffee shop, what about leaving your phone in your bag and focusing on one thing at a time? I think it’s kind of sad when I see people clutching their phones in one hand as they do errands – like it’s a lifeline of comfort. But is that really necessary?

Why do you need to constantly check who has messaged you, Tweeted about their breakfast, or what the weather is? Is taking time to just sit and just be such a bad thing? Is it so awful to not have this constant, instant gratification? I don’t mean to offend people – as I realize that most people who enjoy being online and reading blogs are pretty phone savvy too – but what is wrong with well…just, waiting?

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